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Objectivity test for Skeptics here - Should it be required?

Discuss PseudoSkeptics and their Fallacies. Share strategies for debating them.

Re: Objectivity test for Skeptics here - Should it be required?

Postby Scepcop » 27 Jul 2009, 00:15

Franc28 wrote:
Scepcop wrote:How would you prove that God doesn't exist? Do you have the ability to comb the whole universe and outside of it too??? You can't even get into space!!! Explain.


Why would I need any such abilities to prove that something like a god doesn't exist? All I need to do is look at the claim made. It is claimed, for instance, that a god is a mind without a body. But minds are effects of brains, and cannot exist without bodies. Or it is claimed that a god is both Creator and always brings about the highest good, while we observe in fact the existence of a great deal of unnecessary suffering and evil in the world. That sort of thing.

There's nothing easier than refuting the existence of something hypothesized: all you have to do is wait until it fails one single test. But proving the existence of something, that's the challenge.

Besides, your question is pretty silly. How would YOU prove that God DOES exist? As you said to me, "you can't even get into space!!!" How would you recognize God, even if you COULD go in space? Do you have a photo of it? Do you know what it sounds like? Or are you just operating under a mental image picture that comes from old art, theology and other forms of conjecture or fantasy?

You're exactly like a skeptic who seeks out to show whether acupuncture is true or not by sticking people with needles. The definition of acupuncture is not "sticking people with needles," it's an old system of thought based on a number of premises which have nothing to do with needles. Sticking needles in people no more proves the validity or falsity of acupuncture than drinking water proves the validity or falsity of homeopathy or finding an old man with a beard in space proves or disproves the concept of God.


You are taking the classic Christian concept of God. I am just talking about a generic God. I never said whether he had a body or not. He is supposed to either be a super being in the upper astral planes, perhaps one of many deities, or one all powerful supreme God, or the collective cosmic consciousness of the universe that we are all a part of. Therefore he's not supposed to be a normal human and you can't use normal human standards to judge him by.

The Christians say that God is all good and brings out the highest good. The Bible doesn't even support that.

I would say that you can see God in nature, in the design argument, and in the improbability of life arising. It's kind of like the watchmaker argument where if you found a watch and studied its inner design, you could see that something intelligent designed it. Same with the human body, which is far more complicated and systematic. Plus scientists have confessed that the probability of life arising from chance is similar to a tornado blowing through a junkyard and forming a 747, it's near impossible by chance.

But of course, that's a whole nother issue.
“Devotion to the truth is the hallmark of morality; there is no greater, nobler, more heroic form of devotion than the act of a man who assumes the responsibility of thinking.” - Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged
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Re: Objectivity test for Skeptics here - Should it be required?

Postby Franc28 » 27 Jul 2009, 02:43

Scepcop wrote:You are taking the classic Christian concept of God. I am just talking about a generic God.


Doesn't matter what your conception is... whatever it is, it can either be discussed or it can't. If it can't, then we're talking about an entirely private belief, and there's nothing further to discuss. If it can, then the basic principles still apply.


I never said whether he had a body or not.


Then how would you recognize it?

How would you even recognize it here in this world? If you can't, then what are your chances of ever being able to recognize "divine intervention"?


He is supposed to either be a super being in the upper astral planes, perhaps one of many deities, or one all powerful supreme God, or the collective cosmic consciousness of the universe that we are all a part of. Therefore he's not supposed to be a normal human and you can't use normal human standards to judge him by.


Oh, so now you can't use your reason to evaluate the claim. Why? Because it's not a "normal human"? We evaluate claims about things that are not "normal human" all the time. Since when are you allowed to make exceptions?


I would say that you can see God in nature, in the design argument, and in the improbability of life arising.


You don't even know how to recognize God, let alone its effects. So I'd say you're being rather presumptuous.

Franc: "Hey, do you this artist?"
Scepcop: "No."
Franc: "What was his style?"
Scepcop: "No idea."
Franc: "What was his life story? Where did he live and when?"
Scepcop: "I dunno."
Franc: "So why do you claim you know he painted this?"
Scepcop: "I just know."
Franc: "That's stupid."
Scepcop: "A painting is not like a normal human, so you can't evaluate it in the same way."


It's kind of like the watchmaker argument where if you found a watch and studied its inner design, you could see that something intelligent designed it. Same with the human body, which is far more complicated and systematic.


Yes, we know that someone designed the watch because we know human beings make watches.

The human body does not lead us to the same conclusion, because we know bodies are evolved, not designed. Mother Nature does not work on any blueprint, and she rarely corrects her work. And if we look at the human body closely, it's quite obvious that the human body (while incredibly more complex) is NOT as carefully put together as a good watch.


Plus scientists have confessed that the probability of life arising from chance is similar to a tornado blowing through a junkyard and forming a 747, it's near impossible by chance.


Okay, your understanding of abiogenesis is apparently minus one million.

First of all, NO ONE claims life arose "from chance" (not even Christians, although they have a very stupid story).

Secondly, a tornado does not bind parts of metal together, therefore the analogy with chemical reactions is invalid.

PROTIP: Chemicals are not like pieces of a plane; they form reactions and stick together. Keep in mind your chemistry 101 class, if you ever had one.
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Re: Objectivity test for Skeptics here - Should it be required?

Postby General Zod » 27 Jul 2009, 07:09

Scepcop wrote:General Zod, what do you think of that kind of behavior by other skeptics?


Sorry, I can't account for the actions of other skeptics- especially since I don't know this person and I only have your side of the story. In general, yes, I agree that there's a logical error with making a statement like "unicorns don't exist". I could never prove that statement to be true, even though you're on pretty solid ground if you make this assertion.

For another example, I'm careful not to make statements like "psychics don't exist". Instead I'll either say that I've never seen any convincing evidence of psychic powers, or that I know that certain individuals are not psychic (e.g. I'm 100% confident that Sylvia Browne and John Edward don't have psychic powers).
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Re: Objectivity test for Skeptics here - Should it be required?

Postby Scepcop » 31 Jul 2009, 23:20

Perhaps this should be the objectivity test for skeptics here, to admit that Randi lied here below, where he was caught red-handed, and that it was wrong or a mistake for him to do so. Any honest skeptic should be able to admit it, unless they have a fanatical cult-like belief in their hero.


http://www.sheldrake.org/controversies/randi.html

James Randi

The January 2000 issue of Dog World magazine included an article on a possible sixth sense in dogs, which discussed some of my research. In this article Randi was quoted as saying that in relation to canine ESP, "We at the JREF [James Randi Educational Foundation] have tested these claims. They fail." No details were given of these tests.

I emailed James Randi to ask for details of this JREF research. He did not reply. He ignored a second request for information too.

I then asked members of the JREF Scientific Advisory Board to help me find out more about this claim. They did indeed help by advising Randi to reply. In an email sent on Februaury 6, 2000 he told me that the tests he referred to were not done at the JREF, but took place "years ago" and were "informal". They involved two dogs belonging to a friend of his that he observed over a two-week period. All records had been lost. He wrote: "I overstated my case for doubting the reality of dog ESP based on the small amount of data I obtained. It was rash and improper of me to do so."

Randi also claimed to have debunked one of my experiments with the dog Jaytee, a part of which was shown on television. Jaytee went to the window to wait for his owner when she set off to come home, but did not do so before she set off. In Dog World, Randi stated: "Viewing the entire tape, we see that the dog responded to every car that drove by, and to every person who walked by." This is simply not true, and Randi now admits that he has never seen the tape.
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Re: Objectivity test for Skeptics here - Should it be required?

Postby Scepcop » 31 Jul 2009, 23:29

Franc,
You're getting off topic. You were the one that said that you could prove that God doesn't exist. Then you said you could do so by debunking some extreme Christian claims. All you've shown is that you can debunk Christian fundamentalism or classic Christian theology. Your arguments do not debunk God "in general". Nor have you demonstrated your claim that the existence of God can be disproven. Just because you can debunk a specific concept of God does not disprove God in general. Nor the existence of higher deities or entities that exist in God-like states.

I was just speculating on the possibilities of God. Probably God would have a spirit body that is capable of interacting sometimes in this world. Whether he is all powerful or not is another question, and one that I'm not trying to prove.

Just for the record, I'm a Pantheist. Many mystics, including New Age speakers and authors, are sort of Pantheists in that they believe that God is like a universal consciousness that we are a part of. And in fact, we are sort of part of the dream of God.

Videos like this help explain this idea, in case you've never heard of it.



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Re: Objectivity test for Skeptics here - Should it be required?

Postby Scepcop » 31 Jul 2009, 23:37

General Zod wrote:
Scepcop wrote:General Zod, what do you think of that kind of behavior by other skeptics?


Sorry, I can't account for the actions of other skeptics- especially since I don't know this person and I only have your side of the story. In general, yes, I agree that there's a logical error with making a statement like "unicorns don't exist". I could never prove that statement to be true, even though you're on pretty solid ground if you make this assertion.

For another example, I'm careful not to make statements like "psychics don't exist". Instead I'll either say that I've never seen any convincing evidence of psychic powers, or that I know that certain individuals are not psychic (e.g. I'm 100% confident that Sylvia Browne and John Edward don't have psychic powers).


What if you did see convincing evidence of psychic abilities? Would you change your mind and admit it, or would you erase it from your memory and pretend it never happened (this is not a straw man, SOME skeptics actually do do that, Michael Shermer even did it on his own show once in an episode about remote viewing).

Suppose, for example, that you voluntarily walked into a Psychic fair with hundreds of psychics sitting at tables, and you chose one at random, whom no one in advance could have known you would pick. Then suppose that this psychic you picked gets an amazing hit. He/she tells you a secret about you that is highly specific (not general) that you never told anyone (or even if you did, the psychic would have no way of finding out or guessing by cold reading). So then you become amazed and cannot figure out how it was done by any cold reading technique you know of. Suppose you were at a dead end and could not think of any natural explanation for this amazing hit about your deep secret.

What would you make of it then? Would you then consider psychic abilities "possible" and one explanation? Or would you ignore it completely, pretend it never happened, and continue saying that you've never seen anything convincing from a psychic?

What would you do, hypothetically speaking?
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Re: Objectivity test for Skeptics here - Should it be required?

Postby ProfWag » 05 Aug 2009, 05:00

I hope you don't mind me interjecting on this last post. First, the "what if" that started your statement is just that, "what if." What if a spacecraft flew in on Super Bowl Sunday and teleported an entire football team right in front of everyone's eyes. Something like that would be hard to be skeptical of. However, in the case of psychics, the "what if" is much less cut and dry. I have been to many psychics. Not one of them has impressed me one bit. In fact, none of them have ever given me any "secret" information about myself or anyone else. Hence, based on my experiences, I'm quite skeptical of psychics. However, "what if" someone showed up at my door and proceeded to tell me every item in my refrigerator. I would be quite impressed indeed, but would continue to be skeptical until this person was properly tested for such an ability on many levels. How do I know the psychic didn't sneek into my house the night before?
As for the objectivity test question, my opinion is that it should not be required. What is the other person's side of the story? Shouldn't they both get equal treatment? Telling a lie is usually a bad thing and the story sounds like the person did tell a lie. But, of course, perhaps the person just didn't want to give away something personal. It seems to be implied that only skeptics tell lies. Don't non-skeptics tell lies also? Credibility is a two-way street.
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Re: Objectivity test for Skeptics here - Should it be required?

Postby Scepcop » 05 Aug 2009, 17:23

ProfWag wrote:I hope you don't mind me interjecting on this last post. First, the "what if" that started your statement is just that, "what if." What if a spacecraft flew in on Super Bowl Sunday and teleported an entire football team right in front of everyone's eyes. Something like that would be hard to be skeptical of. However, in the case of psychics, the "what if" is much less cut and dry. I have been to many psychics. Not one of them has impressed me one bit. In fact, none of them have ever given me any "secret" information about myself or anyone else. Hence, based on my experiences, I'm quite skeptical of psychics. However, "what if" someone showed up at my door and proceeded to tell me every item in my refrigerator. I would be quite impressed indeed, but would continue to be skeptical until this person was properly tested for such an ability on many levels. How do I know the psychic didn't sneek into my house the night before?
As for the objectivity test question, my opinion is that it should not be required. What is the other person's side of the story? Shouldn't they both get equal treatment? Telling a lie is usually a bad thing and the story sounds like the person did tell a lie. But, of course, perhaps the person just didn't want to give away something personal. It seems to be implied that only skeptics tell lies. Don't non-skeptics tell lies also? Credibility is a two-way street.
Wag


Yeah but the difference is that psychics HAVE gotten highly specific hits that couldn't have been gotten from cold reading, whereas a UFO has never flown in on the Super Bowl and teleported a football team.

Again, you are comparing something real that has happened with something that you make up out of thin air. See here:

http://www.debunkingskeptics.com/Page4.htm

Look up testimonials about George Anderson, for example. Even Jonathan Edwards has had amazing hits that he couldn't have gotten from research or cold reading.

Sure, people on both sides lie. But the truly objective and honest will admit it, whereas the biased and subjective will not admit any lies on their side. I am hoping to attract the latter type here. That is the point.

So what are you a Professor of?
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Re: Objectivity test for Skeptics here - Should it be required?

Postby ProfWag » 05 Aug 2009, 21:57

Scepcop wrote:
Yeah but the difference is that psychics HAVE gotten highly specific hits that couldn't have been gotten from cold reading, whereas a UFO has never flown in on the Super Bowl and teleported a football team.

Again, you are comparing something real that has happened with something that you make up out of thin air. See here:

http://www.debunkingskeptics.com/Page4.htm

Look up testimonials about George Anderson, for example. Even Jonathan Edwards has had amazing hits that he couldn't have gotten from research or cold reading.

Sure, people on both sides lie. But the truly objective and honest will admit it, whereas the biased and subjective will not admit any lies on their side. I am hoping to attract the latter type here. That is the point.

So what are you a Professor of?

To answer your last question first, I'm a Professor of Management through a small university in Missouri. I'm not a scientist, nor do I claim to be an expert in things scientific, but I am a person who likes verifiable facts and solid references.
As for your statement, about getting specific hits, could you give me an example that can't be explained either by "hot reading" or educated guesses? What "amazing hits" has John Edward (not Edwards as you mentioned--he's a politician) had that you can share that's verifiable? Please don't reference his TV show as I can turn right around and show where he has used "hot reading" which that alone makes his show suspect at best.
I'm vaguely aware of George Anderson. I just looked up his web site and he says he's "the most scientifically-tested medium of this century." Unfortunately, he doesn't give any references for this statement. So, I had to go out and look for these tests and since I'm affiliated with a University, I have access to all types of science, psychology, etc. journals. Literally millions of articles are available at my fingertips with a simple search. Can you guess what I found? Nothing. Not one article. So, either he's lying or his scientific tests weren't conducted in an academically respected environment. If you know of any of his experiments or have access to one of his readings either through an audio or a transcript, I'd love to hear it. I promise to be objective about it as well. I have just written him and asked for references of his scientific tests and will share that with you when or if he responds.
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Re: Objectivity test for Skeptics here - Should it be required?

Postby ProfWag » 05 Aug 2009, 23:24

I have received a reply from the office of George Anderson on his research. First, his reply is now quoted:

"Dear Layne:

Thank you for your interest in George Anderson.

George has had a number of tests over the past 30 years--some privately funded (by outside groups), some funded by the university through which the studies were made, and some by medical doctors. We never thought to keep a record of each test, but I can tell you the ones I do remember. We don't list them on our site because George was a third party participant and the findings are not our property. Many also were written about in the books about George (or books that made reference to George)--"We Don't Die," "We Are Not Forgotten," "Our Children Forever," "Lessons From The Light," "Afterlife Encounters," and "The Afterlife Experiments." I can give you a short list of some of the testing that I remember--I hope it will help:

Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, New York (facilitator not known)
Cornell Medical Center, New York (facilitator not known)
Theatre of the Mind (Psychomanteum Chamber), Alabama Dr. Raymond Moody
Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross Center, Texas Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
University of Las Vegas, UNLV, Las Vegas Dr. Raymond Moody, Robert Bigelow
University of Virginia Dept. of Personality Studies, Virginia Dr. Ian Stevenson, Dr. Bruce Grayson
University of Arizona, Human Energy Lab, Arizona Dr. Gary Schwartz


I hope the information helps.

Regards, Andrew Barone"

I will be looking at some of this information over the coming days and will give my point of view from a critical thinker's perspective. I hope for an honest debate...
First, before researching any of the above studies, I'd like to start the debate with his line "We never thought to keep a record of each test." Huh? Someone has the ability to communicate with dead people and they don't think about keeping a record of his scientific testing? Of course, if the testing did not show any significance towards his communication, then I guess the test should be forgotten, but also more on that later...
More to follow
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Re: Objectivity test for Skeptics here - Should it be required?

Postby Azrael » 06 Aug 2009, 06:37

Scepcop wrote:Yeah but the difference is that psychics HAVE gotten highly specific hits that couldn't have been gotten from cold reading, Even Jonathan Edwards has had amazing hits that he couldn't have gotten from research or cold reading.




I leave Prof Wag to deal with Anderson, but Scepcop Id like to see objective proof for this statement please
I'm always very skeptical of any situation where someone's notability hinges on their connection to another notable person
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Re: Objectivity test for Skeptics here - Should it be required?

Postby ProfWag » 07 Aug 2009, 03:40

ProfWag wrote:
Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, New York (facilitator not known)
Cornell Medical Center, New York (facilitator not known)
Theatre of the Mind (Psychomanteum Chamber), Alabama Dr. Raymond Moody
Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross Center, Texas Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
University of Las Vegas, UNLV, Las Vegas Dr. Raymond Moody, Robert Bigelow
University of Virginia Dept. of Personality Studies, Virginia Dr. Ian Stevenson, Dr. Bruce Grayson
University of Arizona, Human Energy Lab, Arizona Dr. Gary Schwartz


I've spent a few minutes looking over the list (above-previously referenced) of scientific studies provided to me by George Anderson's office. With the exception of the Univ. of Virginia, I've looked into all of them. Here's what I found:
Columbia and Cornell could not be verified since he does not remember who tested him. (?)

Dr. Raymond Moody is on the list twice from different places. He is an "author, lecturer, and counselor" – Coined the term “Near Death Experience” in the late ‘70s. No reference to a scientific study with Mr. Anderson could be found.

Dr. Gary Schwartz has studied several of the “famous” mediums to include Anderson, Edward, and Allison Dubois. It is interesting to note that Dubois no longer endorses Schwartz because she believes he “cashed in” on her fame. His scientific experiments are often done in restaurants and resorts. States that although he is a firm believer, he has no scientific proof in being able to communicate with the dead. He’s hoping that a study to be conducted in 2011 will help shed new light on the afterlife.

Kubler-Ross authored one of the best books on bereavement on the market. (If you've never read it, it's great reading.) I couldn’t find a reference anywhere of scientific studies by her on Mr. Anderson. She passed away in 2004 so nothing can be verified.

As I have shown, Anderson's "scientific studies" is not very scientific, for it if they had been, there would be numerous articles on his successful results. As such, I am concluding that at this time, the evidence is such that Mr. Anderson probably does not have a paranormal ability to communicate with dead people. If you have further evidence than what has been shown, please present it, but at this time, I will move on to other debatable items.
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Re: Objectivity test for Skeptics here - Should it be required?

Postby brett » 08 Aug 2009, 19:05

interesting thread :

2 questions - when have pseudo skeptics ever been objective ?? - and WHY oh WHY ?? do we get the does god exist /not exist argument dragged into so many threads ?? - what pray has he /she/ it got to do with anything ??

i have a simple "objectivity ' when dealing with the paranormal - look at the evidence - look again at the evidence - look VERY closely for any "motive" - then consider all the possibilities - AND the impossibilities - come to a conclusion - and if there is nothing there SAY SO !! - if there IS something there - continue probing - and last but not least don't let the opinions of supposed "experts**" - ever get in the way of research !

( ** X=an unknown quantity , and a "spurt " is a drip under pressure )

ho hum
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Re: Objectivity test for Skeptics here - Should it be required?

Postby NinjaPuppy » 08 Aug 2009, 19:13

brett wrote:interesting thread :

2 questions - when have pseudo skeptics ever been objective ?? - and WHY oh WHY ?? do we get the does god exist /not exist argument dragged into so many threads ?? - what pray has he /she/ it got to do with anything ??

i have a simple "objectivity ' when dealing with the paranormal - look at the evidence - look again at the evidence - look VERY closely for any "motive" - then consider all the possibilities - AND the impossibilities - come to a conclusion - and if there is nothing there SAY SO !! - if there IS something there - continue probing - and last but not least don't let the opinions of supposed "experts**" - ever get in the way of research !

( ** X=an unknown quantity , and a "spurt " is a drip under pressure )

ho hum


BRAVO!
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Re: Objectivity test for Skeptics here - Should it be required?

Postby ciscop » 10 Aug 2009, 05:18

ProfWag wrote:
ProfWag wrote:
Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, New York (facilitator not known)
Cornell Medical Center, New York (facilitator not known)
Theatre of the Mind (Psychomanteum Chamber), Alabama Dr. Raymond Moody
Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross Center, Texas Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
University of Las Vegas, UNLV, Las Vegas Dr. Raymond Moody, Robert Bigelow
University of Virginia Dept. of Personality Studies, Virginia Dr. Ian Stevenson, Dr. Bruce Grayson
University of Arizona, Human Energy Lab, Arizona Dr. Gary Schwartz


I've spent a few minutes looking over the list (above-previously referenced) of scientific studies provided to me by George Anderson's office. With the exception of the Univ. of Virginia, I've looked into all of them. Here's what I found:
Columbia and Cornell could not be verified since he does not remember who tested him. (?)

Dr. Raymond Moody is on the list twice from different places. He is an "author, lecturer, and counselor" – Coined the term “Near Death Experience” in the late ‘70s. No reference to a scientific study with Mr. Anderson could be found.

Dr. Gary Schwartz has studied several of the “famous” mediums to include Anderson, Edward, and Allison Dubois. It is interesting to note that Dubois no longer endorses Schwartz because she believes he “cashed in” on her fame. His scientific experiments are often done in restaurants and resorts. States that although he is a firm believer, he has no scientific proof in being able to communicate with the dead. He’s hoping that a study to be conducted in 2011 will help shed new light on the afterlife.

Kubler-Ross authored one of the best books on bereavement on the market. (If you've never read it, it's great reading.) I couldn’t find a reference anywhere of scientific studies by her on Mr. Anderson. She passed away in 2004 so nothing can be verified.

As I have shown, Anderson's "scientific studies" is not very scientific, for it if they had been, there would be numerous articles on his successful results. As such, I am concluding that at this time, the evidence is such that Mr. Anderson probably does not have a paranormal ability to communicate with dead people. If you have further evidence than what has been shown, please present it, but at this time, I will move on to other debatable items.


nice investigation profwag
so i guess george anderson claims were without proof..
"how weird for a psychic"
BRAVO!!!

i didnt know about george anderson.. i did know about john edward, that guy rightly deserved when southpark called him the biggest douche on the universe.. taking advantage of people griefs is something quite horrible.
For every person who reads this valuable book there are hundreds of naïve souls who would prefer to have their spines tingled by a sensational but worthless potboiler by some hack journalist of the paranormal. You who now read these sentences join a small but wiser minority. Martin Gaardner (Psychology of the Psychic)
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